Home    

The frame problem

The analogy of the stage magician is particularly apt. One is not likely to make much progress in figuring out how the tricks are done by simply sitting attentively in the audience and watching like a hawk. Too much is going on out of sight. Better to face the fact that one must either rummage around backstage or in the wings, hoping to disrupt the performance in telling ways; or, from one’s armchair, think aphoristically about how the tricks must be done, given whatever is manifest about the constraints. The frame problem is then rather like the unsettling but familiar ‘discovery’ that so far as armchair thought can determine, a certain trick we have just observed is flat impossible. — “Cognitive Wheels: The frame problem of AI,” Daniel C. Dennett

The frame problem is not the problem of induction in disguise. For suppose the problem of induction were solved. Suppose—perhaps miraculously—that our agent has solved all its induction problems or had them solved by fiat; it believes, then, all the right generalizations from its evidence, and associates with all of them the appropriate probabilities and conditional probabilities. This agent, ex hypothesi, believes just what it ought to believe about all empirical matters in its ken, including the probabilities of future events. It might still have a bad case of the frame problem, for that problem concerns how to represent (so it can be used) all that hard-won empirical information—a problem that arises independently of the truth value, probability, warranted assertability, or subjective certainty of any of it. Even if you have excellent knowledge (and not mere belief) about the changing world, how can this knowledge be represented so that it can be efficaciously brought to bear? — “Cognitive Wheels: The frame problem of AI,” Daniel C. Dennett

AI Su13 material by Joshua Eckroth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Source code for this website available at GitHub.